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Renting an Apartment

7 Top Questions to Ask When Renting an Apartment

Renting an apartment is a major decision and requires thorough research before making a commitment to rent an apartment. To help you assess whether you want to rent a specific apartment, we have come up with seven top questions you should find answers to when planning to rent an apartment.

1. When is the rent due and how do I pay it?

Usually, this is the first question to ask when renting an apartment. You might assume the answer is the first of the month and by cheque. Some landlords require an EFT direct deposit. Others might accept credit cards, but with a fee attached. Some might collect rent on the day you move in or on the 5th day of the month. Whichever one it is, it is best to find out for sure.

Also, make sure you ask about these potential extra costs:

  • Is there a grace period before a late fee is applied?
  • Are there any application fees?
  • Is there an annual rent increase? If there is, how much is it?

2. What is included in the rental cost?

Some apartments include amenities that can offset your overall cost of living. Ask if any of the following are included in your rental.

  • Garbage fees
  • Water
  • Electricity
  • Gas bill
  • WiFi or TV cable
  • Laundry
  • Parking

3. Do I need to rent a storage unit?

If your apartment needs more space for you to store your belongings, rent a storage unit. A 5 x 5 feet or 5 x 7 feet storage unit should be enough for your needs. These storage unit sizes are similar to a regular closet and can hold personal items, clothes, boxes, skis, children's toys, small furniture items, and some work documents. If you want something bigger, you can rent a 5 x 10 storage unit. This storage unit size is equivalent to a walk-in closet and holds small amounts of furniture, sofas, chairs, chest of drawers, boxspring and mattress, business supplies, and records. It can also hold other small items and boxes.

4. Do I need to have renters insurance?

Some landlords will require you to have renters insurance, which will factor into your overall rent cost.

5. How do I give notice when I want to move out?

When you ask this question, consider the following:

  • What is the timeframe to give notice?
  • What is the security deposit return process? How long until I get it back?
  • Will there be a final walkthrough?
  • Access and tenant responsibilities

6. Will the locks be changed before I move in?

This item is one of the most overlooked, but it is an essential question to ask when renting an apartment. If the landlord says no, demand that they are changed. Also, find out who has master keys to your residence.

7. Is there ongoing or upcoming construction happening at the building?

More construction might mean more noise and less security. Now is also the time to inquire about the security of the property. Are there cameras? Are there lights in the parking lot?

8. Is subletting the apartment allowed?

When you find out about subletting, also ask if you are able to use services like Airbnb in your apartment. Finding out this information helps you estimate the additional income you may generate from subletting the apartment.

9. Who do I contact with issues regarding rent?

Find out if there is a leasing or building manager that you can contact when you have a request, or want to file a noise complaint.

10. Who do I contact for basic repairs?

Who you contact in an emergency, such as a pipe break, might be different than to whom you reach out for a minor maintenance issue, like a chipped floor tile. Find out how you submit maintenance requests.

11. Is there any existing damage to the apartment?

This question is crucial to getting back an honest security deposit. Make sure you insist on a final walkthrough with the landlord or someone on staff. During the walkthrough, make a note with the person accompanying you of any existing damage. Make sure pictures are taken and that there is written documentation of any findings of your walkthrough. Make sure this is filed with you and the landlord. This step will help ensure you do not get dinged on your security deposit return, or get surprise charges for any damage that was already present when you moved in.

12. Where are the fire extinguishers and smoke detectors located?

Safety first! Find out where these items are before you move in. If they are not present, insist that the landlord get them installed before you move in. If the apartment does not look to be up to code, make sure you report it to the city through the proper channels. Once you move in, check out this apartment move-in checklist again for additional guidance.